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Police Nail 43 Illegal Immigrants Suspects in Fake SIM Crackdown

The South African Police Service (SAPS) recently arrested 43 suspected illegal immigrants and two South Africans involved in a counterfeit SIM card operation in Sandton. This operation highlights the ongoing issue of scams and fraudulent activities in South Africa. In a significant crackdown on fraudulent activities, the South African Police Service (SAPS) arrested 45 individuals linked to a counterfeit SIM card operation. This bust involved 43 suspected illegal immigrants and two South African nationals, all apprehended on Friday in Sandton.

The operation came to light following a tip-off about suspicious activities at a house in Sandton. Acting on this information, the SAPS Gauteng Organised Crime Investigation Unit swiftly moved to raid the property. According to Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo, the police discovered more than forty suspected illegal immigrants, aged between 17 and 36 years.

Further investigation led the officers to a garage and backroom on the premises, where they found thousands of counterfeit SIM cards from all South African mobile networks and a significant number of computers. Technicians from various mobile network providers were brought in to verify the authenticity of the SIM cards, confirming that they were indeed imitations likely produced on-site.

The suspects now face multiple charges, including contraventions of the Cybercrimes Act, fraud, and illegal immigration. Masondo indicated that the investigation is ongoing, and more arrests could follow as the police delve deeper into the operation.

This incident is part of a broader problem in South Africa, where scams and fraudulent activities are becoming increasingly prevalent. One of the more common scams involves phishing, where criminals pose as representatives from the South African Revenue Service (SARS). In a recent scam, fraudsters contacted taxpayers, claiming they could not file their 2024 tax returns until an “outstanding amount” was paid. Victims were given a fraudulent account number to transfer funds, unwittingly sending money to the scammers.

SARS has emphasized that it never provides bank account numbers and that any payments should only be made through official SARS channels. This advice aims to protect citizens from falling victim to such schemes.

Another prevalent scam in South Africa involves fake job recruitment. Criminals reach out to victims via SMS or WhatsApp, promising high earnings for performing simple online tasks, such as following social media pages or writing fake reviews. While victims may receive small payments initially, they are soon asked to make increasing “deposits” to boost their potential earnings. Eventually, the scammers disappear, taking the victims’ money with them.

These fraudulent activities not only financially devastate individuals but also tarnish the reputations of legitimate businesses. The recent crackdown on the counterfeit SIM card operation is a step towards combating these pervasive scams, but the battle against fraud continues.

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    Webster Molaudi

    With over 20 years of experience in digital marketing, I possess a demonstrated history of success in overseeing online communities and executing digital advertising initiatives for esteemed brands such as Sowetan LIVE, SundayWorld newspaper, 3S Media, Peugeot and Citroen South Africa, RedSquare, Motus Renault South Africa and various private enterprises.
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